Hello. I Must be Going.

February 29, 2024
3 mins read
//Dan St. Paul

I’ve noticed a troubling trend. I’ll get somewhere and soon after, I want to leave. It must come with age. There is a socialization saturation point. I can hear myself at 85, “I don’t need to meet more people. There’s no room left in my brain to remember anyone else.” I’m just as happy watching a sporting event at home than seeing it live. I just scoot my chair up to my 65” TV and I have the best seat in the house. You wouldn’t believe how cheap the beer is in this place.

So much is involved once I buy a ticket to any event: bathe, shave, brush my teeth, apply antiperspirant, comb my hair, get dressed, start up the car, drive, find parking, walk to the venue, find my seat, and then…deal with all the annoying people around me. They commandeer the armrest or repeatedly bonk the back of my seat or talk incessantly during the action or blab at a concert while someone is performing. These are the people, the people that make me say, “I hate people.”

When it comes to concerts, my willingness to go through all that is in direct proportion to my adoration of the performer. Two of my wife’s faves, Jackson Browne and Ricki Lee Jones, performed at a tribute to Ramblin’ Jack Elliot recently. Cara demanded we attend. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Ramblin’ Jack. I always assumed he got that name because he was constantly on tour. Come to find it referred to his tendency to stretch a song by telling a story in between verses. Jack’s 92 now. He closed the show without much chatter. His ramblin’ days might be behind him but at 92, I was pretty impressed.

The show was a benefit for Sweet Relief, an organization set up to help uninsured musicians with their medical bills. In addition to Jackson and Ricki Lee, a cavalcade of stars, young and old but mostly old, were on hand. A surprise appearance by Bob Weir was most notable. He hopped onto the stage barefoot in a pair of denim shorts that looked tapered just below his knees. His big gray coif and beard along with his hippie capris gave off the look of a castaway who’d just been rescued.

He mentioned he was late because he was at a football game, inferring he was at the NFC Championship game between the 49ers and Detroit Lions. So, right away, I’m jealous and annoyed. He went on to say that he was going to emulate Ramblin’ Jack by talking his way through a song, something he admitted he had never done. Oh great! An experiment in front of a couple thousand people who’d paid seventy-five bucks a pop. Am I supposed to be thrilled, because I’m not. Nathaniel Rateliff, Jackie Greene, Sarah Guthrie (Arlo’s daughter), and several of the younger performers were a pleasant surprise. They saved the day.

Going forward, I’ll be more discerning about which concerts I choose to attend. We saw 66-year-old Shawn Colvin recently. She was great. It was an intimate venue and we got to sit very close. But you won’t catch me at an arena to see a legacy act. I saw most of them when I was younger. I content myself with those memories. I witnessed Pete Townsend leap high into the air and windmill his guitar when I was 18. Don’t get me wrong. Good for The Who for still being on tour. I just don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to see the 78-year-old pinball wizard attempt to jump two inches off the ground.

I’m not big on large parties either. Especially when I only know maybe two people. I’ll have a drink, a couple hors d’oeuvres and I’m ready to go. When I’m hired to perform at a corporate event I’m often implored to stay and enjoy myself. I never do. It’s their party. I’m just the help. I can’t help but think of people looking at me sipping a beer alone in the corner and wondering, “Hey, that’s the comedian. Why’s he still here? Kind of sad.” I mean, if you’ve already clocked out, do you hang out at work anymore than you have to?      

The 49ers lost the Super Bowl yesterday. I did not attend a party. Cara and I had tickets to see Corrine Bailey Rae, a superb British singer/songwriter, at the SF Jazz Center. We left for the show at halftime. Once the excellent concert was over, we learned of the final score. Somewhat melancholy I said to myself, “Well, at least we won’t have a bunch of drunk jackasses on the street setting off fireworks.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to yell at the kids on my lawn.

More Dan at: danstpaul//substack.com

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